Bless those who persecute you. Don’t curse them; pray that God will bless them. Be happy with those who are happy, and weep with those who weep. Live in harmony with each other. Don’t be too proud to enjoy the company of ordinary people. And don’t think you know it all! Never pay back evil with more evil. Do things in such a way that everyone can see you are honorable. Do all that you can to live in peace with everyone. Dear friends, never take revenge. Leave that to the righteous anger of God. For the Scriptures say, “I will take revenge; I will pay them back,” says the Lord. Instead, “If your enemies are hungry, feed them. If they are thirsty, give them something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals of shame on their heads.”
Dear God, I’m not sure I’ve ever spent much time with is passage. Romans has never been one of my go-to books, but I came into contact with this passage recently so I wanted to think about it a bit.
My first inclination in reading it is to wonder about motivation. I love the first part of this passage, but then the part where Paul seems to intimate that being nice to them is like heaping burning coals of shame on their heads gives me pause. But if your go back to verse 9, it says, “Don’t just pretend to love others. Really love them.” At the end of the day, if you really love others, those who you only THINK are your enemies will become your legitimate allies, and those who are truly your enemies will likely experience the confusion and shame that Paul describes here.
I can say that my own hate has never been productive, and has always worked to destroy me probably more than the person I hate. It’s one of those great mysteries of grace—it offers freedom to both the forgiver and the forgiven.
Father, make me an instrument of your peace and help me to decrease as you increase. Help me to see others as more important than myself and to live in your love. I have specific things in my heart that are too personal to mention in this open prayer, but you know what I’m thinking. Be God for us all.
In Jesus’ name I pray,